Researchers have long been interested in fast-running robots with powerful, agile legs. In particular, several groups have focused on bio-inspired designs based on cheetahs.
But when a team at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) set out to create a new sprinting robot, they didn’t look at big cats; instead, they found inspiration in a completely different kind of creature: a velociraptor.
The robot, called Raptor, has two nimble legs and a mechanism that mimics a tail. In a recent experiment, it achieved an impressive speed of 46 kilometers per hour on a treadmill.
That’s faster than the fastest human, the Olympic sprinter Usain Bolt, whose top speed has been estimated at 43.92 km/h.
And it’s almost as fast as the world’s fastest legged robot, Cheetah, built by Boston Dynamics, which reached 47 km/h in a trial two years ago, also on a treadmill.
Cheetah is a hefty quadruped, powered by hydraulic actuators. Raptor is a compact, 3-kilogram machine, with two legs made of lightweight composite material.
Another difference is that Raptor has a tail. Although it looks nothing like a Velociraptor’s tail, it works like one, moving rapidly to help the robot maintain its body stable while stepping over obstacles, says Jongwon Park, a PhD student at KAIST’s Mechatronics, Systems, and Control Laboratory.
Park developed Raptor along with colleagues Jinyi Lee, Jinwoo Lee, Kyung-Soo Kim, and Professor Soohyun Kim.
Using a tail for stability is not a new idea in robotics. MIT’s cheetah-inspired quadruped has a mechanical tail, and a UC Berkeley wheeled robot features a tail that is also based on a velociraptor’s.
Unlike other legged robots that rely on multiple actuators, Raptor uses just one motor per leg, which consists of a nine-bar linkage. To recover part of the energy used to make the robot move, the researchers added Achilles tendons that work as springs, absorbing and restoring energy with every step.
The robot’s control system is also simple. Raptor runs a computer program known as a running pattern generator, which controls gait and speed.
We hope as the Korean researchers develop this technology they can build a version of Raptor that doesn’t need a treadmill and that they can set free outdoors.
And then we get right down to the best part of this story:
## we can have ourselves a robot race.[More here.](http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/robotics-hardware/fast-running-biped-robot-based-on-velociraptor#.U4epjIJuO9w.reddit)